Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I've joined Dumbledore's Army

This arrived at my office via "Owl Mail" (a.k.a. the super-cool folks at McWane Science Center) this afternoon.

Along with a copy of "The Daily Prophet" there was also a wand and a "Dumbledore's Army" t-shirt. Best of all, inside was a pair of tickets for a press screening of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix at IMAX three days before the movie opens.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Feeling hot, hot, hot

Over the four years that we've lived in our house, we've had numerous problems with our air conditioner. Initially, we had a homeowner's warranty, so every time something went wrong, we only had to pay $45 for a service call. Nevertheless, those charges added up. Various repair technicians have refilled leaking freon, searched for leaks that they didn't find, searched for leaks that they did find, claimed nothing was wrong with the system, blown out the line (which I've since learned how to do myself), and even replaced the entire outdoor unit.

Once again, our air condioner is not cooling. We discovered the problem on Wednesday as we returned home from work. Immediately, we cut off the air so it wouldn't burn out the unit. The next morning, we called the service place and set up an appointment. The earliest they could come was Friday. Suffering through a second night in the heat was not a prospect we were relishing, but it wasn't unbearable. We just kept in mind that at least our outdoor unit, being only three years old, was still under warranty.

When the repair guys showed up Friday evening, it only took them about five minutes to figure out the problem. The compressor was shot. No big deal, right? It's under warranty. Well, sort of.

While the part is still covered under the manufactuer's warranty, the service is only covered for one year, so we'd have to pay for installation. That's going to run around $500. We have a good friend who works for a different heating and cooling service company who would give us a much better deal. However, according to our warranty, the same company who installed the unit must be the one to service it, otherwise our warranty is void. Our friend had suspected as much, but I was still surprised to see it confirmed. So, even if he could do the work for us for free, we'd then have to sell out around $1200 for a new compressor.

So now, we're waiting until Tuesday when the service company with whom we're contracted can come back out and replace the unit again. And of course, the temperature is expected to get up to 99° today. We called the 800 number for the manufacturer to see if there was any way their warranty would cover putting us up in a hotel for a couple nights -- we do have a three-month-old baby, after all. Unfortunately, by the time the service guys left, it was 7 p.m., and the manufacturer's answering system told us that they wouldn't be open again until Monday morning. So, we're just going to tough it out through the heat, spending as much time out of the house during the middle of the day as possible.

There is one good thing to come out of this debacle, though.

Usually Kendall sleeps upstairs in our bedroom. Sometimes she spends half the night in her bassinett, but she never seems quite comfortable there and wakes easily. When she wakes up hungry in the middle of the night, Misty just lays her in bed with us to let her nurse because it's a lot easier than trying to stay awake in a rocking chair for 15 minutes while Kendall gulps down her milk.

With it so hot in the house though, we're worried about the increased risk of SIDS. Misty and I agreed that Kendall would be better off sleeping downstairs in her own bedroom where it was cooler.

When I woke up around 5:30 this morning, I realized something: I'd slept through the night having never heard Kendall on the baby monitor. I peeked in on Misty (who'd slept in another room to keep cooler) to see if maybe she'd gotten the baby in the night, but the only thing she was holding was her pillow. I tiptoed into Kendall's room, and there she was, splayed out in her crib, still sleeping. So thanks to our broken air conditioner, our baby has finally made the move toward sleeping on her own.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Practicing for Halloween

As I was getting ready for work this morning, Emily met me in the doorway with a little pink basket, held it up, and said, "trick or treat, Daddy!"

I must have given her a look of incredulity -- a "you've got to be kidding me if you think I'm giving you candy at 6 a.m." look -- because she paused only a moment before explaining, "I'm just pretending."

Happy to pretend, I gave her a handful of imaginary candy.

Friday, June 15, 2007

My apologies to Harry Potter

Two weeks ago, I had intended on going to the the "breakfast with Darth Vader" portion of the Star Wars sleepover at the McWane Science Center to take pictures for, but that was when Emily got sick, so I had to stay home with her instead. I'd told the folks at McWane that I'd be there though, so I felt bad about not going. I e-mailed their PR director a couple days later to offer my apologies and promised that I would definitely be at their upcoming book release party for Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows.

I've been pumped about the McWane Center's next Harry Potter party since book six came out. The event they hosted was phenomenal. The entire museum was converted into Hogwart's. They had magic classes (Care of Magical Creatures, Charms, Herbology, Potions...), Marauder's Maps, a Sorting Ceremony, and hundreds of people dressed up. It totally blew away any book store's midnight release party. I expect this time will herald an even bigger extravaganza, and I've been encouraging my friends from Huntsville to drive down here to join the fun.


A few days ago Misty was invited to attend a weekend veterinary conference hosted by Novartis at the Opryland Hotel. It's basically an all-expenses-paid trip, with hotel, meals, and gas mileage covered by Novartis, and she can bring me along. Misty has long wanted to visit the Opryland Hotel, but we hadn't found an excuse to visit Nashville, and we didn't want to make such a trip for the hotel, alone. This mini-vacation seems like the perfect opportunity, so she signed us up to go. The only problem is that it's the same weekend as the Harry Potter party. And even though the release of book seven is a once-in-a-lifetime thing, we still had to weigh book release party vs. free vacation.

I'm sorry, Harry, but the free vacation won out. I hope you and your friends prevail over Voldemort. Your book will be waiting for me on my front porch when I get back.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Kids make a trip to the drugstore an adventure

Funny thing about Emily's bout with stomach flu last week -- the doctor told me that the incubation period could be as long as ten days, so Misty or I could get sick more than a week later. He just had to be right, didn't he.

Friday evening, Misty came down with the same thing Emily had and was a wreck throughout Saturday. Sunday morning, I had the honor of catching the bug, and I spent the day throwing up repeatedly. For some reason, the actual vomiting never really bothers me; it's the queasiness that does me in. When there was nothing left inside of me to pour out, I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach and pushed me down a flight of stairs.

Emily's diarrhea has continued throughout the week (again, just as the doctor predicted), so yesterday I took her along to CVS to try to find some dietary supplement called Culturelle. While scanning what I thought was the appropriate aisle, Emily grabbed a box and held it up saying, "Here, Daddy, is this it?"

"No, you do not need an enema," I told her as I put the box back on the shelf.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Quick to the rescue, quick with the wit

The grass in my yard is so incredibly dry and brittle from lack of rain that I actually got a splinter while walking around barefoot yesterday evening. Well, maybe it was a tiny piece of wood or a thorn, but I'd rather blame the dry grass -- it certainly was uncomfortable to walk on.

This morning, while getting ready for work, I attempted to pull the splinter out with tweezers. It wasn't working (probably because I'd left it in overnight), so Misty opened up a drawer in the bathroom, fished around a bit, and pulled out a safety pin. "Try this," she told me.

After a few seconds, I'd worked the splinter out easily. "That was a good idea," I said. "Thanks."

"Well, my nickname isn't the 'world's greatest badass' for nothing," Misty replied.

"Really?," I asked. "Who calls you that?"

"Me," she said. "But it's important that I believe in myself."

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Wii don't need to eat dinner

Gentlemen, Nintendo has crafted a device that will make your wives and girlfriends want to play video games with you, and that device is the Wii.

Yesterday evening, as is often the case in our household, Emily was wrestling for Misty's attention over Kendall by pestering her relentlessly. "Mommy, can I have a snack?" ... "Mommy, come push me on the swing." ... "Mommy, can you fix my necklace?" ... "Mommy, eat this [imaginary] cupcake I made for you. ... No! You forgot to take the wrapper off first!" "Mommy, I need you."

Just to be a pest, I told Emily, "Maybe Mommy will play Wii Tennis with you when she finishes nursing Kendall," knowing full well that this would result in a barrage of requests from Emily that Misty hurry up and play. My thinking was: If Emily asks her, she's more likely to do it than if I do.

My plan worked. Mother and daughter played as a team for three rounds of tennis doubles, and the addictive powers of the Wii drew Misty in. Immediately following their set, Misty wanted to play again. Of couse, Emily pretty much sucks at the game and is able to return the ball about one out of every fifty times her opponent hits it to her, so I took over as Misty's partner. We played a couple more three-match sets, and it was time for dinner.

But Misty didn't want to eat dinner. She wanted to keep playing. So she quickly set out something for Emily to eat, and she returned to our game. Kendall was getting tired of sitting in her swing, so Misty and I took turns holding her in one arm while we swung our Wiimotes with the other. In between serves, Misty would dash into the kitchen to encourage Emily to continue to eat. I think we played three more five-match sets, (with a round of Wii Bowling somewhere in between) and we won each of them.

By this time, Emily needed to be getting ready for bed. Grudginly, Misty relented and allowed me to shut down the game system. We got Emily off to bed and heated up some soup for ourselves for dinner. While we were eating, Misty said something about being frustrated that we couldn't play anymore since we'd keep Emily awake. If we hadn't had a new Entourage DVD from the video store though, I think she would have turned turned the Wii right back on.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Charlotte A. Cavatica: The Spectacular Spider-Girl

Emily talked almost non-stop as we watched Charolotte's Web yesterday. Most of her interruptions were questions about what was going on, and I began to think that maybe the movie was a little above her head. After all, when the town was so impressed about the words woven into the spider's web (which is pretty much the crux of the story), Emily didn't seem to have any concept of why such things were going on.

But understand the movie or not, she was apparently paying more attention than I gave her credit for.

This morning, on the way to day care, she told us that "They were going to kill that pig just because he was little. And that girl, she didn't want him to. And she put the pig in her jacket and took him to school, and she gave him a bottle. That was silly."

The really fun part, though, was when she told us about the spider. "Charlotte caught a fly, and she drank its blood," Emily reported. "I don't drink blood. I'd get time out."

"Yes, you'd get worse than a time out," I replied.

"Yeah, I'd get sick," Emily said. "I'd have to go to the doctor."

At this point, Misty and I were trying not to laugh, and I told Emily, "Probably not Dr. French, though. You'd have to go see a different kind of doctor if you started drinking blood."

"Well, what's her name gonna be?," she asked.

"Uh... probably 'Buffy'," I answered.

"No, we wouldn't send her to someone to kill her," Misty scolded me.

"Buffy didn't always kill the vampires," I said. "She kept Spike around, and she even dated Angel."

So here I was, having to rationalize with my wife about fictional characters involved with creatures that don't actually exist in order to establish that I wouldn't really put a stake through our daughter's chest in the event that she started drinking blood. Hopefully there won't be any phone calls from school today.

Friday, June 01, 2007

My mother-in-law's sex change

This story needs to begin a ways back, otherwise it won't make sense. Misty's mom recently finished her second round of chemotherapy treatments. Her doctor had been hoping the medicine would shrink the cancer that had reappeared, but last week her scan results showed that intstead the cancer was completely gone. This was, of course, great news. The point though, is that Misty's mom is currently bald for the most part, thanks to the chemo.

That's the prelude. Now for the story.

Emily and I were playing with our Wii yesterday afternoon, making Miis (avatars that can be used in certain games). She wanted me to make one for each of her grandparents, despite the fact that I doubt either my mother or Misty's mother will ever pick up the controller. Emily was sick though, so I humored her.

When I finished making a Mii for Misty's mom (whom I had given a hairstyle like she had before her chemo), I asked, "Does this look like Mimi?"

Emily said, "That's not her hair. She's a man now. I want her to be a girl like me."

So, apparently, for a 3-year-old, being bald makes you a man.